Merkel successor cleans up as Putzfrau Gretel in carnival role

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer reprises role as cleaning lady during festivities in home state of Saarland

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democrat party, returned to her home state of Saarland over the weekend to reprise her annual role as Putzfrau Gretel (Gretel the cleaning lady) during carnival celebrations.

Dressed in an apron and checkered headscarf, Kramp-Karrenbauer cracked jokes about December’s CDU leadership election, the fight banning diesel vehicles and political dysfunction in Berlin in front of a crowd of more than a thousand people.

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Reporter Jason Rezaian on 544 days in Iranian jail: ‘They never touched me – but I was tortured’

The Iranian-American Washington Post journalist reveals the psychological scars his 2014 imprisonment left him with

Three years after being released from an Iranian prison, Jason Rezaian can still not quite shake off a recurring bad dream. It no longer dogs him several times a week as it did in the early days after his release, but it still revisits him, often after he has been retelling his tale. And it never changes.

“It’s not a nightmare of somebody beating me and trying to chase me down,” says Rezaian, a Washington Post journalist now back in his newspaper’s home town. “It is: you were supposed to get out and you didn’t. There was this moment you were supposed to be released and for whatever reason, that didn’t happen.”

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Chinese surveillance company tracking 2.5m Xinjiang residents

Internet expert exposes unsecured database believed to be targeting Muslim minorities

A Chinese surveillance company has been tracking the movements of at least 2.5 million residents in a province where Muslim minorities have been the target of a far-reaching security clampdown, internet experts have found.

Victor Gevers, of the non-profit group GDI.Foundation, which supports an open internet, discovered an unsecured database online that contained the name, sex, ethnicity, ID number, birth date and employer of residents in China’s western province of Xinjiang.

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‘So many lies’: Trump attacks McCabe over explosive CBS interview

Donald Trump returned to the attack against Andrew McCabe on Monday, in response to an interview in which the former deputy FBI director discussed his new book and made claims damaging to the president.

Related: 'I believe Putin': Trump dismissed US advice on North Korea threat, says McCabe

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EU parliament’s centrist coalition set to lose majority, poll finds

European People’s party and Socialists & Democrats have run parliament for 40 years

The “grand coalition” of centre-right and centre-left that has run the European parliament for 40 years is set to lose its majority for the first time following elections in May, according to the institution’s internal forecasts.

The centre-right European People’s party and centre-left Socialists & Democrats have long called the shots in the EU parliament, but polls suggest the two big groups will win only 45% of seats, down from 53%.

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‘I almost died’: arms dealer whose poisoning may be linked to Skripals’

Russian agent allegedly in Bulgaria when Emilian Gebrev poisoned in 2015 and in UK when Skripals attacked

The first sign that something was wrong with Emilian Gebrev was an itchy, bloodshot eye after a dinner in April 2015. The next day he had strange visions of flashing lasers, followed by uncontrollable vomiting. As friends rushed him to hospital, everything went black and he slipped into a coma.

Now, nearly four years after the Bulgarian arms dealer was on the verge of death after a suspected poisoning, British investigators are in Sofia to determine whether the incident could be linked to the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with novichok in Salisbury.

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Trump’s ‘bring jihadists home’ call gets mixed response in Europe

Germany will put fighters on trial, while Hungary says they should not be allowed back

Donald Trump’s demand that Germany, France and Britain repatriate and prosecute their citizens fighting in Syria has met a mixed response in Europe as countries baulk at the difficulties involved in taking back hundreds of alleged jihadists.

Germany pledged on Monday to put its foreign fighters on trial, but warned their repatriation would be “extremely difficult”, while France said it would not act for now on Trump’s call but would take militants back “case by case”.

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Man who sparked VIP paedophile ring inquiry appears in court

Carl Beech pleads not guilty to perverting course of justice after claiming he was abused by establishment figures

A man accused of making false allegations that sparked a multimillion pound police investigation into a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice and fraud.

Carl Beech, 51, told police as a child he was among victims of a group of establishment figures – including senior politicians and military figures – who he alleged raped and murdered boys in the 1970s and 1980s, triggering a £2.5m Scotland Yard inquiry, Operation Midland, which shut in 2016 without any arrests.

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Swedish student fined for plane protest against Afghan’s deportation

Elin Ersson received a £250 fine for refusing to take her seat on a plane in Sweden last year

A Swedish student who livestreamed her protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker last year has been found guilty of violating Sweden’s aviation laws and fined £250.

Elin Ersson, 22, avoided a prison sentence at the Gothenburg district court, where she was sentenced to a fine of 3,000 Swedish krona.

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Jussie Smollett: Chicago police still seeking follow-up interview

  • Actor’s lawyers angrily reject reports he may have staged attack
  • Police spokesman says trajectory of investigation ‘shifted’

Chicago police are still seeking a follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett after receiving new information that “shifted” their investigation of a reported attack on the Empire actor.

Related: Jussie Smollett attorneys dismiss reports of involvement in own 'attack'

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